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Assemblymember says mail, identity theft rampant in south Brooklyn

BY VICTOR PORCELLI

Overflowing mailboxes, lost checks and identity theft have plagued areas of south Brooklyn for some time. On Monday, Assemblymember William Colton called for the postal service to install theft-proof mailboxes to address the problem.

“There have been a number of problems with the United States Postal neighborhood mailboxes, where people’s identity have been stolen due to fishing in mailboxes,” Colton, who represents areas of Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and Dyker Heights, said in a statement. 

Colton said that many of his constituents have older mailboxes that provide “access by opening the large slot where mail then can easily be fished out.” The Assemblymember demanded that the postal service’s inspection service not only install theft-proof mailboxes, but investigate overflowing mailboxes in the area, which residents say is an issue caused by the Post Office’s failure to stick to scheduled daily pick-ups.

“I am strongly advising the public not to use old mailboxes for their protection and that of their mail,” Colton said.

Residents of Dyker Heights have had issues with mail before. Last year, a postal worker was arrested for hoarding over 17,000 pieces of mail. The worker said he did so because he was “overwhelmed” by how much he had to deliver.

“It’s definitely a big issue throughout the district, I know especially in Dyker Heights they’ve been vocal about it,” Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, which covers Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge, told the Home Reporter. “Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of mail theft, whether its fishing through mailboxes, or removing parcels from porches, so as many secure postal mailboxes as possible would be a positive for the district.”

Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Max Rose hosted a roundtable on the issue to talk about postal issues in Dyker Heights, as well as Bath Beach, Gravesend and Homecrest. Residents mentioned issues with inconsistent or incorrect deliveries and theft due to drop-off timing issues and broken or insecure mailboxes.

Many of Colton’s constituents expressed similar concerns leading up to his call for more secure mailboxes, according to a spokesperson. One resident said they went to the postal service mailbox at Van Sicklen Street and Avenue T and found that it was overflowing and envelopes could be easily pulled out by anyone. Others complained of utility payments and other checks being stolen.

District Manager of Community Board 11 — which covers Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Mapleton — Marnee Elias-Pavia said, “The incidence of mail theft in our community has been an issue and it especially impacts our older community, especially those that do banking by check for paying bills,” Elias-Pavia told the Home Reporter. “The newer mailboxes will be a benefit and protect our residents from such thefts.”

She went on to say that it also should prevent identity theft and other scams, which are issues faced by the community. “Any efforts to curtail that will be a great benefit,” she said.

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